D.N.I.S. News Network- While the mainstream political parties are busy with their slug-fests ahead of assembly polls in five states, a 600-km Social Justice March by a team of disabled activists from a political party, exclusively espousing the rights of disabled people, is gathering steam before its culmination in the national capital in the middle of next month.
The march by Rashtriya Vikalang Party, which began on 18 February 2006 in Lucknow, though unnoticed in the national media, is generating much excitement in the state of Uttar Pradesh as it meanders its way through villages, towns and cities.
“It has received an exceptional response! The ideal that drives us is of creating a common political agenda for 100 million disabled people of this country. They have been neglected by mainstream political parties despite constituting a substantial chunk of voting population,” said National President of the Party, K. K. Dikshit, in a telecon with D.N.I.S.
“I can show you over 30 news reports on our march,” he retorted when asked about the lukewarm response from English media. “Disabled people live in poorest of conditions and live in ignorance. This will hopefully politicise them,” he added.
Dikshit has written to several disability organisations urging them to support this initiative and send a political message to parties and rest of the country. “The party feels that unity amongst disability organisations and disabled people is the bedrock of dignity and political identity. As long as we stay isolated, the politics of neglect will continue,” reads the letter.
The march, led by Uttar Pradesh State President Pramod Mishra, is rallying support around a 25-point charter of demands. These include: extension of reservation in government jobs for disabled people from the current 3 per cent to 10 per cent; implementation of job reservation in private sector; reservation of 10 per cent posts in all political and governing bodies, from local to national level; instituting a monthly disability pension of Rs 1,000 and clearing of the backlog of posts reserved for disabled people in the next three months.